Alabama Academy of Honor


Barbara W. Larson

The following biographical sketch was created in October 2011.



Barbara Waters Larson was born on May 24, 1948, in Montgomery. She attended Bellingrath Junior High and graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1966. She attended Sweet Briar College in Lynchburg, Virginia, for two years and transferred to The University of Alabama, leaving after marriage to raise a son and twin girls. As her twins went off to college, Larson went back to school to finish her degree. She attended Auburn University at Montgomery, graduating with a B.A. in English in 1997.

Larson worked for several years with Blount Incorporated in Montgomery and then joined the Alabama Shakespeare Festival after the theater relocated to Montgomery in 1984. She spent five years there as the development director and helped establish a significant statewide presence and strong financial base for the theater.

In 1989, Larson was recruited to be the first executive director of Leadership Alabama. Working with an outstanding board, she created an organization that would bring together each year a class of 50-60 established leaders, representing a broad spectrum of Alabama citizens, to participate in a series of issues-oriented forums focusing on the challenges and opportunities that exist in our state. She credits Leadership Alabama for the heightened awareness of important issues which have resulted in the formation of several successful statewide organizations. With other Leadership Alabama graduates, Larson was a founding member of Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform (ACCR). Twenty-two years after Leadership Alabama was founded, Larson continues to lead the organization that has now brought together more than 1,100 men and women to reflect on big issues facing Alabama and become more engaged in efforts to make life in Alabama richer, more equitable, and more fulfilling.

Larson has also served on the board and the executive committee of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) for the last ten years, frequently bringing PARCA and Leadership Alabama together to present research findings to both Alabama citizens and the Alabama Legislature. She was a founding director of the A+ Education Foundation, and she continues to serve on the board and executive committee of the A+ Education Partnership.

Larson, a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, has three children and six grandchildren.